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John C.
Republican TX

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  • Continuing Appropriations

    by Senator John Cornyn

    Posted on 2013-10-08

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    CORNYN. Madam President, four times the House of Representatives has sent over continuing resolutions with various additions for consideration by the Senate. Each time Senator Reid and the majority party have tabled those provisions, essentially shutting them down without giving them an opportunity for a vote on the merits.

    The last time, though, I believe Senator Reid led his colleagues down a very treacherous path, because the provisions of this otherwise clean CR would have repealed the provision that carves out Congress and members of our staff and gives us preferential treatment under ObamaCare. The second part of it has to do with delaying penalties on individuals, just as the President has unilaterally done in delaying penalties on employers.

    There is no good reason for us not to pass both of those provisions. But instead of trying to deal constructively with the House of Representatives--which has sent four separate bills over here on the continuing resolution--the majority leader has chosen to stiff-arm each of those efforts.

    So when the majority leader comes to the floor and bemoans the government shutdown--something we all agree we should try our best to avoid--he claims they are willing to negotiate and the President is willing to negotiate a change in the outcome. But we know that is not true. We know each time they have shut out Republican proposals from the House of Representatives which would open the Federal Government with reasonable bipartisan agreements.

    But what really is beyond belief is when I hear our colleagues come to the floor and they say, Why can't we have cancer research for children at NIH continue? Yet we come to the floor and offer bills which would open funding at the National Institutes of Health, that very same cancer research, and they are objected to by the Democratic side of the aisle. I don't know any other word to describe it than hypocrisy.

    This morning, the Washington Post talks about the case of Michelle Langbehn from California, who was diagnosed with sarcoma and is unable to have an opportunity to participate in a clinical trial at NIH. This is the very same sort of program which would have been funded by the bill we offered on this side of the aisle and was objected to by the majority leader and the Democratic side.

    There is one bright spot of agreement, and that is we were able to agree unanimously to pass the House bill that funded our troops which passed the House 423 to 0. That is the good news. But the bad news is this has now all morphed into a debate not only on the continuing resolution but on the debt ceiling. What the majority leader and his side of the aisle are apparently proposing is that without making any arrangements whatsoever to pay for the $17 trillion in debt that has already been accumulated, they want another clean debt ceiling increase, and the President says he won't negotiate, but in all likelihood we will be voting later this week on another $1 trillion added to our maxed-out credit card without doing anything whatsoever to take care of the debt which has already been incurred.

    That is fundamentally irresponsible. That is not me saying it. The American people have said this. The Congressional Budget Office has said this. The President's own bipartisan fiscal commission has said that.

    In a recent poll from NBC-Wall Street Journal, when people were given the choice between raising the debt ceiling or not raising the debt ceiling, 44 percent said don't raise the debt ceiling, 22 percent said raise the debt ceiling. I realize we have more choices than that. There could be, coupled together with the raising of the debt ceiling, some real reforms of our broken entitlement programs to shore up Social Security and Medicare. But our colleagues and the President himself have said, No, I am not going to negotiate. No, I want a clean debt ceiling. No, I want the freedom to max out the credit card another $1 trillion, without doing anything to pay off the debt that threatens not only our future prosperity, but our national security.

    I remember very clearly when ADM Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked what the greatest national security threat to the United States was, and he said the national debt.

    Why would our colleagues and the President of the United States ignore what the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called the most significant national security threat to our country by saying, We are not interested in any reforms, we are not interested in anything that would actually pay down the debt and remove that threat to our national security and our future prosperity? Why would they say, No, we want to keep on spending money--money we don't actually have--and continue to borrow from our creditors like China and other foreign countries that hold a majority of our national debt? And when interest rates start to tick back up again as the Federal Reserve begins to taper its purchase of our own debt, we are going to see more and more of our national expenditures go to pay interest on that debt, crowding out not only national security but the safety net programs for the most vulnerable people in our country.

    Madam President, I yield the floor.

    The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Michigan.

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